The Man From Snowy River

The Man From Snowy River
Words by Steve Gourlay

Rumors have been going around about massive pipes up in the Snowy Mountains in Australia for at least twenty years. It took one super-keen guy named Matt Chamberlain from sk8parx.com to actually locate the pipe with GPS coordinates and some tiresome research.

Finally, after a quick reconnaissance mission the previous weekend to confirm that it was actually skateable, I received a phone call (along with 32 others) that this was the craziest thing ever seen.

Before I ramble on about the “Pot Hole,” I’ll give you a brief rundown on where this thing is. Sydney is on the east coast of Australia, and the Snowy Mountains are located between Melbourne and Sydney about seven hours inland.

The Snowys are famous for their extremely rugged terrain. They were conquered by a bunch of tough bastards who used to drive sheep and cattle through this area as well as search out and catch wild brumby horses back in the 1800s. Even if you have an Aussie-built four-wheel-drive-like we did-you’ll ask yourself, “How the hell did these guys get through this mountainous bushland 200 years ago on horseback?” The answer is simple-they were Aussies!

Australia is the driest continent on earth. We required more water and electricity to cope with our growing population back then, so in the early 1940s, the seventh engineering wonder of the world was built-”The Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme.” This basically entailed blocking major rivers in the mountains, moving towns to flood massive valleys, and building enormous hydro-electric power stations to generate power through the force of gravitational water flow from high altitudes.

It took 25 years to build sixteen major dams, seven power stations (two of which are underground inside the mountains), and one huge pumping station. The biggest of all of these manmade lakes is Lake Eucumbene-its volume holds nine times that of Sydney Harbor!

Getting back to the story … all I can say is that we were in awe of this pipe, which we measured out to be 32 feet in diameter. It certainly has an unconventional way to start to skate a full pipe. You’d basically stand at the mouth of the pipe, jump on your board, and fly down a 30-degree incline into the first wall at full speed-no jumping off or you’re screwed. The surface was super rough, sandy, and unforgiving.

This was an insane historical occasion in Australian skateboarding that’ll certainly never be forgotten by those who were there, and if you ever come here, it’s definitely worth the journey.